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Jamaicans take top honors at 2015 Makka Pro

Ivah Wilmot © JSA




Makka Pro

Jamaica Surfing Association
Southaven, Yallahs, Saint Thomas, Jamaica
25 - 26 July 2015

One of the biggest surfing events in English speaking Caribbean delivers

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 29 July, 2015 - Jamaican surfers Icah Wilmot, Garren Pryce, Janice Wilmot, Jonathan Farr and Ackeam Phillips took the top honors in the Open, Junior, Women amateur and Expression Session divisions at the ninth staging of Jamaica’s premier international surfing event, the 2015 “Makka Pro”. The event was held on Saturday and Sunday 25th and 26th of July at the world famous “Makka” surfing beach in Southaven, Yallahs Saint Thomas.

The event sponsored by the Sports Development Foundation and the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Jamaica Sport, lived up to its reputation as one of the biggest surfing contests in the English speaking Caribbean with thousands of spectators turning out for the surfing and after party which ran on till midnight on Sunday night. The venue was spectacular. A kiddies’ fun park complete with rides of all descriptions from Ferris wheel and merry-go-round to gigantic water slides, Mini arcade, clown and face painting, catered for the young and young at heart. Cappuccinos, snow cones and slushes along with cold Red Bull helped cool patrons off as the Caribbean trade winds fanned the coast.

The food court provided a wide array of local cuisine and Sponsor VW had their “JAMAROK” Pick-up along with their TIGUAN and GOLF motor cars on display adding a touch of class to the layout of the venue. The surf spot itself, not to be outdone, delivered the goods in the wave department with solid overhead surf both days sending in the best surf right on queue for the grand finals of the four contested divisions on the Sunday afternoon.

The event format had the open and junior division surfers having to battle through four grueling rounds of heats in order to make the final. Saturday saw eleven heats of the first two rounds in both divisions. Conditions were challenging, with four to five foot surf and a stiff on-shore wind creating a lot of surface chop for the surfers to contend with. 

Elishama, Icah, Garren, Jensen & Maureen Smith of Jamaica Sport © JSA


The first round 1 heat of the day also saw the first upset with defending open and junior champion Elishama Beckford and Trinidad’s Luc Barcant being bumped into round 2 by Boston Bay’s Shane Simmonds who skipped a round and advanced to round 3. The second heat also had its own upset with Kingston’s Luke Williams who also advanced to round 3and relegating USA’s Jensen Calloway and Bull Bay’s Eneson Lightbourn to round 2. There were no real surprises in heats three and four with last year’s runner up in the division, Icah Wilmot taking the win in heat three over Ronley Lewis and Ackeam Phillips in an all Bull Bay affair. Last year’s runner up in the junior division, Garren Pryce, took heat four from Boston Bay’s Jason Pusey and Bull Bay’s Ivah Wilmot.

The first round of the under-21 junior division was up next and most of the top juniors were registered to compete in both open and junior divisions, which were going to make for a very tiring day of surfing especially if you expect to make the finals in both divisions. There were two round 1 heats from each of which the top two advanced to round 3. The losers would face off in round 2 for the 2 remaining slots in round 3. Heat one had defending champion Bull Bay’s Elishama Beckford and Ronald Hastings drawn against Boston Bay’s Akeem Taylor. Akeem and Elishama got the top 2 spots and advanced and Ronald had to try again in round 2. The second heat had Bull Bay’s Garren Pryce, Ivah Wilmot and Armani Green drawn against Boston Bay’s Javaun Brown. With only two advancing, Javaun and Armani had to try again against Ronald in round 2 as Garren and Ivah booked their spots in the single round-3 heat. 

Ronald Javaun and Armani paddled out and the heat was on. Twenty minutes of action ensued and when the spray settled Ronald and Javaun moved on to round 3 and Armani was eliminated. 

Round 3 of the junior division had two three man heats from each of which two would advance. The first had Elishama, Ivah and Ronald. Elishama outclassed the field in the heat and left Ronald and Iva scrapping for second and a spot in the semis. Ivah had to pull a last minute come from behind victory out of the hat to make the semifinal. Heat two had Boston Bay’s Akeem and Javaun against Bull Bay’s Garren Pryce. Akeem showed his class and stole the heat in very convincing style and along with Garren they moved to the semifinals.

Shane Simmonds © JSA


From here to the junior final it was going to be anyone’s to take. It would come down to wave selection as all surfers at this stage are at the top of the young Jamaican surf talent pool. The first semifinal was Elishama against Garren, style versus raw power. Every ride was exciting but by the end of the heat power had won out over style as Garren hacked and slashed his way into the final ending Elishama’s hope of a repeat victory. Heat two had two of the other top juniors, Ivah and Akeem which set up the north coast south coast rivalry and elicited a healthy cheering competition on the beach. The quality of the surfing was top notch and when the conch shell was blown Ivah had made the junior final.

Garren and Ivah paddled out for the final heat in the 2015 Makka Pro junior division as the waves began to improve. The sets were noticeably bigger and providing much longer rides for the athletes to showcase their skills. The crowd on the beach was getting bigger as well with everyone shuffling for a spot from which to view the action. As the surfers caught the first set of waves it was evident that it was going to be close.

Round 2 in the open division was a scorcher with every heat stacked with talent. In heat one, Elishama faced Eneson in a do or die battle for a spot in round 3. Pressed all the way by his rival, Elishama showed his class and advanced. Heat two of the knock out round saw Trinidad’s Luc Barcant having to face heavy hitting American Jensen Calloway, and in a one-sided heat, Jensen booked his spot in round three. The third heat featured Ronley Lewis and Ivah Wilmot with Ivah getting the upper hand and cruising into round 3. The final heat of the round had Jason Pusey paddling out against Ackeam Phillips. The judges split the difference in Ackeam’s favour and he also advanced to the quarterfinals bringing the first day’s heats to an end.

Sunday was the day when victory was the only option in the man on man format on the journey from the quarter finals to the finals. Defeat meant automatic elimination. 

Ivah Wilmot © JSA


Heat one had Shane Simmonds meeting Elishama Beckford. The defending Champion had to pull out all stops to bring off a come-from-behind victory to get the better of the ultra talented “Shane-O Pro” and advance to the semis in a heat that had the crowd on their feet as the two exchanged waves. Heat two was an unusual repeat of a first round challenge between Luke Williams and Jensen Calloway. In round one Luke got the better of the American but the second time around, Jensen stayed focused and got his revenge on his way to the semifinals. The third heat had brothers Icah and Ivah Wilmot meeting for the first time. It was exciting to the wire but big brother had the edge and was on to the penultimate round. The final heat of the quarters was between Jason Pusey and Akeem Phillips. The two regular foot surfers entertained the onlookers with a display of dynamic surfing that left Ackeam ahead at the end of the heat and booked his passage to the semifinals.

The two heats of the open division semifinal round lived up to all expectations. The first heat pitted defending champion Elishama against former Makka Pro Champ USA’s Jensen Calloway. In a blow for blow heat the lead exchanged hands a number of times before the younger Beckford was declared the winner and advanced to his second Makka Pro final in two years. On the other side of the draw, heat two saw last year’s runner up Icah Wilmot facing the powerful and aggressive junior Garren Pryce. The youngster started strong and maintained his composure for most of the heat buit experience came through with Icah getting two wonderful waves to take the heat win and set up a repeat of last year’s final.

Elishama had a very vociferous set of supporters on the beach encouraging him along as he made his way to the water’s edge. Icah seemed cool and focused. This is what the whole two days of competition had come down to... a faceoff between the top two surfers on the island… for the second time in 2 years! The conch shell sounded and it was down to business. The surfers went blow for blow as each ensuing set of waves delivered up by the Caribbean was better than the one before. The crowd on the beach was really getting into it as the surfers slashed and shredded the waves to pieces sending huge fans of spray from every turn bringing loud cheers from the spectators. As the clock ticked down the situation intensified with every ride being critically scrutinized by the judging panel. Icah caught a brilliant wave and Elishama answered with one of his own. Icah then snared a beauty and put the pressure back on Elishama. Time was running out and Elishama gave it a go but his last wave was not enough as the conch shell sounded to announce the end of the day’s proceedings and the crowning of the 2015 Makka Pro Open Champion Icah Wilmot.

The amateur division is new to the Makka Pro and was specially requested by a group of the island’s beginner surfers. There were seven participants which were divided into two heats in the first round, one three man and one four man. The first was the four-man with Patrick, Brandon Cowan, Nick Robinson and Jonathan Farr. The heat was entertaining and provided quite a few laughs, but when it was over, Jonathan and Nick were into the final. The second heat had Jason Worton, Jose Rivas and Nicholas Farr. Other Farr brother from Long Bay, Nicholas, showed his class in the same way his brother did and took first place in the heat with Jason nabbing second and the final spot in the final.

The Amateurs paddled out for their final and in no time the Far brothers made it clear that they wanted top honors as they were the only representatives of Jamaica’s Northeast surf community. They stayed very busy in the water and every wave they rode was met with loud cheers from the surfers from Boston Bay and Long Bay. Jason, the lone Kingstonian was struggling to find a score but towards the end of the heat he got two waves. Nick started strong but couldn’t find the backup wave he needed and when the conch shell sounded it was Jonathan Far that was to be crowned 2015 Makka Pro Amateur Champion.

Four ladies paddled out. Janice and Chrissana Wilmot, Sarah and Nadine and they meant business. It was to be one of the most entertaining heats of the event for the crowd on hand. The ladies had moral support out in the water as contestants from the open division paddled out to assist the ladies in the very challenging conditions. Chrissana put the first big number on the scoreboard when she nabbed a lovely wave and got a long ride down the beach. Janice got a wave of her own and was in the heat. The other two girls were struggling in the difficult conditions and were only scoring 1’s and 2’s. Chrissana then got another wave and regained the lead from her sister-in-law to the great excitement of the people watching. Then there was a big set of waves coming in and Janice was right in the right position. The wave lifted her up as she got to her feet and she came speeding down the large breaking wave. The crowd on the beach erupted with screams and whistles as she made her way down the beach. The wave gave her back the lead and the time elapsed leaving Janice as the 2015 Makka Pro Women’s Champion. 

The award ceremony was a joyous occasion for all present. Photo opportunities with the champions were taken full advantage of when the sponsor reps handed out checks, trophies and medals to the winners and there were giveaways to the crowd courtesy of Christian Surfers and Volcom and Bull Bay’s Ackeam Phillips was the recipient of the Expression Session Best Maneuver medal for hie reverse 360.

Billy Wilmot

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